The decades-long battle over organic certification of hydroponically grown foods is poised for resolution, with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals set to decide an appeal by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) in a case that seeks to block certification of foods not grown in soil.  On May 19, 2021, CFS filed an appeal asking the Ninth Circuit to reverse a district court decision upholding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s determination that hydroponically grown foods are eligible for certification under the National Organic Program (NOP).  The outcome of the appeal could have significant implications both for hydroponically grown fruits and vegetables and for other soil-less crops, including mushrooms and sprouts.
Continue Reading Organics Advocates Dig In With Ninth Circuit Appeal Challenging Certification for Hydroponics

Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 7, the “Housing + Jobs Expansion & Extension Act”, which extends and expands California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) streamlining provisions.  As previously discussed in our February blog post, “California Senate Returns Its Focus to Housing in 2021-2022 Legislative Session,” SB 7 is the first bill from the Senate’s “Building Opportunities for All” housing package to be signed and enacted this year.  SB 7 extends through 2025 the streamlined CEQA administrative and judicial review procedures developed for Environmental Leadership Development Projects (ELDPs) under Assembly Bill (AB) 900 in 2011. AB 900 established a process to expedite legal challenges for large housing, clean energy, and manufacturing projects with a capital investment of at least $100 million.  In an effort to increase housing and job opportunities in California, SB 7 expands streamlining eligibility to smaller affordable housing projects.  Specifically, housing projects on infill sites with an investment between $15-$100 million that meet specified labor and environmental standards and include at least 15 percent affordable housing are now eligible under SB 7.  SB 7 also clarifies that the deadline to resolve legal challenges to ELDPs under the expedited judicial review process is 270 days from the filing of the certified record of proceedings, including appeals to the court of appeal and the Supreme Court.
Continue Reading Senate Bill Extends and Expands CEQA Streamlining Process

On Wednesday, June 2, the Los Angeles City Council’s Public Safety Committee voted to proceed with expanding Fire District 1 after receiving a report produced by the Department of Building and Safety, Fire Department, and City Planning Department.  The report analyzed the potential impacts of the expansion of Fire District 1, which prohibits certain construction types in limited areas of the City of Los Angeles, such as Downtown and Hollywood.  The report concluded that the expansion of Fire District 1 would result in an increase in construction and materials cost and would likely reduce the financial feasibility of affordable housing projects and result in fewer projects throughout the City.
Continue Reading Los Angeles City Council’s Public Safety Committee Votes to Move Forward with Expanding Fire Rating Requirements for New Construction

On Monday, May 3, 2021, the New York City Planning Commission (CPC) “referred” the Department of City Planning’s (DCP) proposed zoning text that would mandate a Special Permit for all
Continue Reading NYC Proposed Citywide Hotel Special Permit Moves into the Public Review Process

Yesterday the Los Angeles City Council adopted a motion entitled Building a Safer Los Angeles (“Motion”) that would significantly expand the fire rating requirements for new buildings and restrict the use of light wood-frame construction throughout large parts of the City of Los Angeles.  The Motion is broadly written and, contrary to some reports in the press, it does not call for exemptions based on building size or square footage.
Continue Reading City of Los Angeles Moves to Increase Building Standards for New Construction

Not your average game of patty-cake! Earlier this week, New York’s  First Department, Appellate Division issued its decision related to 200 Amsterdam,[1] overturning the lower court’s decision which would have required 200 Amsterdam to remove several floors of its building in order to comply with zoning.  The lower court determined that the NYC Zoning Resolution did not permit a developer to utilize a portion of a tax lot to merge with a neighboring zoning lot.
Continue Reading Build Me A Building As Fast As You Can

In March, the Southern California Association of Governments (“SCAG”)[1] will adopt final Regional Housing Needs Assessment (“RHNA”) allocations for cities and counties within the SCAG region.  This 6th RHNA cycle represents the first update to these targets since the passage of key housing legislation, including Senate Bill (“SB”) 35[2], which grants ministerial approval and streamlining of qualifying housing projects if the jurisdiction has failed to meet its RHNA targets.  Housing developers planning for potential investment can look to these production targets to assess regional and city-based needs.  Cities and counties also will update their Housing Element and other planning documents to address the need.
Continue Reading Southern California Counties To Adopt Major Housing Production Targets

The new 2021-2022 California legislative session has kicked off with the Senate’s “Building Opportunities for All” housing package, its latest effort to tackle zoning and California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) reforms in an effort to address California’s ongoing housing crisis.  “Each one of these bills is targeted at an element of the housing crisis, and together, they give us a unified approach that would create pathways to home ownership, stable housing for vulnerable families, and a pathway to economic stability for Californians across the golden state,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins when announcing the housing package. As anticipated in our summary of new legislation effective in 2021, this housing package builds upon the housing production bills from the previous legislative session that failed to pass out of committee or gain concurrence votes before the session ended.  Given that many of the bills replicate language from the failed 2020 housing legislation, the senators appear confident that more of these bills will be approved in this new session.
Continue Reading California Senate Returns Its Focus to Housing in 2021-2022 Legislative Session

Effective February 1, 2021, the California Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom approved  Senate Bill (“SB”) 91 – Eviction Protection and Relief Act in further response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  In essence, SB 91 extends core tenant protections established by August 2020’s Assembly Bill (“AB”) 3088,[1] but also establishes the State Rental Assistance Program, provides rental assistance for landlords and tenants, and closes existing loopholes in AB 3088.
Continue Reading California Legislature Extends Residential Eviction Moratorium and Implements Rental Assistance Program for Landlords and Tenants

In follow up to the New York City Department of City Planning’s (DCP), January 22nd, public hearing on the Draft Scope of Work for the City’s proposed Hotel Special Permit text amendment, there were several speakers both in support of and in opposition to the proposed legislation.  Of note, were five elected officials who testified in support of the Hotel Special Permit, with a unified message, that the development of hotels takes away opportunities for affordable housing in this City, and therefore, hotels must be regulated at a higher level than other uses.  Generally, the opposition cited to the City’s failure to provide a land use rationale for the Draft Scope of Work, the lack of any defined issue or specific policy objective that this proposed Hotel Special Permit seeks to address and the potential impact of the proposed Hotel Special Permit on the City’s economic recovery.
Continue Reading City Planning Holds First Public Hearing for its Citywide Hotel Special Permit Text

On December 30, 2020, New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (the “Department”) promulgated statewide ambient limits on greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions for the years 2030 and 2050 (the “Regulations”).[1]  The GHGs covered by the Regulations include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons.[2]  The final Regulations constitute a critical step in the implementation of New York State’s climate strategy set out in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”).
Continue Reading New York Moves Further Toward Implementation of Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act with Final Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emission Limits for 2030 and 2050